I have a friend that treats McDonald's as a privilege that she allows her kids to enjoy.
My question is - is it right to treat McDonald's as a privilege and if so, is that putting the wrong idea into your child's mind that this is something to chow down on when they're able to buy food on their own (16+)?
I know of three different people with very distinct parenting skills:
But I've heard arguments going the other way... that McDonald's is a privilege and not to be eaten everyday, can be taken away at anytime, etc.
I prefer the option of giving them wholesome treats, and letting them know that pretty much anything at McDonald's is on the same level as eating out of the trashcan. Find any type of cheat as a substitute for that.
We hardly ever go to McDonalds, so to my kids see it is a treat, there's not much we can do about that. Anything they like (or like the free toys with anyway) that is rationed becomes a treat by its very nature.
They know its crap, but they don't care, and neither do I as they eat well the rest of the time. I wasn't allowed McDonalds as a child and then went crazy for fast food as a teenager when I had my own money, I'm really careful about what I forbid, if they are anything like me they'll hold those items in the highest esteem!
I get a special treat at McDonalds. A free trip to the bathroom and a cup of coffee.
I grew up with the concept of fast food being special, treated myself often as I got older, and got fat. The concept of do-it-yourself returns food prep to where it belongs. The results taste better and take longer, and that's the whole paleo point. Grok didn't have a drive thru.
Virtually always a mistake, imo and experience, for a parent to dictate what a teenager (or tween) buy with their own money. McDonalds is crap and just as toxic are things like Body Shop products and cosmetics etc.
When you educate kids about food and toxins and being healthy as you raise them, they don't want crap. Or they try it with their friends and get a tummy ache and never eat it again.
McDonald's once in a while is NOT going to kill an otherwise healthy teen.
Let them make their own choices with their own money.
If they don't know by 16 that McDonald's is crap then there were 16 years of missed teaching moments. I noticed with my own three that their friends loved coming to our house because we always had fresh fruit and vegetables and cheese readily available. And I always had a bunch of health journals out on the table and it surprised even me how interested they were!
Anyway, the take away here is if you try to dictate what a teen eats or spends their own money on, you are asking for trouble.
Denying something that a kid wants to try can cause them to grow up and eat lots of trash. My parents were super zealous about only eating healthy food, we lived on a farm, grew most of our food and raised most of our meat, but we had friends who could eat whatever they wanted, and when we went to their houses, we got to have kudos bars, and other junk. Later in life, when we left the nest and went to college and so forth, all 4 of us had overeating problems. I am the only one who has overcome this, and it is not always easy. I have a sister and a brother who live on junk food, and who, after discussing in depth, acknowledge that it comes from it being so forbidden to us as kids. My younger sister is better at battling it than the other two, and she also acknowledges it as being a problem. I think you have to be pretty delicate with a kid's psyche. I think if they don't visit friends who eat junk, or see the parents eating junk, or see commercials for the junk, then it is probably easier to avoid this problem, but being a child of the 80s/early 90s, even without cable on our farm, I was still inundated with the knowledge that these "delicious" treats were out there.
So I don't really know the answer, or what I will do with my children when we have them someday. Advertising is everywhere and it only gets worse. Our goal is to homeschool, but that doesn't mean they will be holed up and not exposed to this food. I would love to think that they would grow to have no taste for it, but denying food can cause major issues that can lead to finding the food as soon as one is able, hoarding it at time (with my older sister) and secret eating. I don't know if it is better to just provide them with all of the best foods possible, but let them have cake at a friend's birthday party, and hope they don't like it, or how to teach balance. I don't think it is so black and white.
I never had McDonalds until I was in High School and could drive and buy it myself. Don't get me wrong, Crisco and margarine, Fritos, Oreos, ice cream, Baby Ruth bars, bread, peanut butter, pasta and 2% milk (delivered) were staples at our house. And we did have fast food now and then, but only from the local establishments (Haloburgers, Angelo's Coney Island, 5th Avenue Fish and Chips). We also ate in restaurants more than most people. I think my dad just thought McDonalds was kind of low class.
My whole family (2 parents/6 kids) are/were obese. McDonalds is not THE problem. It is simply part of our culture of junk, which is the problem.
I've got three small kids. From my perspective, it's my job to prep them for the real world. With that in mind, I've introduced my kids to fast food in the vein of #3. We play a game where we look for healthy "growing food" options. If options are limited, we talk about what few options are available that might come close to our Paleo/primal lifestyle.
There can be a difference between treat and a sometimes thing. I don't take my kid to McDonald's or similar restaurants, but if my bf or someone else does, I'm okay with it. Yes, the food is crap, but even kids have to have the right to some choice. Forbidding something for a kid sets it up as a way to be rebellious when they're older, so I try not to forbid, rather, I try to set a good example and educate her. The idea is to have her learn to make responsible choices.
I have had this argument with a co-worker who gives her twin 6 year old mcdonalds once a month, personally, I believe it should NEVER ever be eaten by anyone ever. It isnt even close to food, and rewarding your kids with high value food treats like that sets them up for eating disorders later in life. Get them a toy instead. Unfortunately McDonalds advertising leads people to beleive that they are as american as baseball and paleo apple pie, and that food is an important part of family values, and if you are too busy to cook for them every night, well McDonald's is there and it means you love your kids!!! It is so wrong. Personally I feel that not ever having a happy meal is best because they cannot cry for something that they do not know about.
I only go to McDonalds for the bathrooms. If there's no line for ordering stuff, i'll pick up a coffee.
I haven't eaten their food for about twenty years. I used to do some of the breakfast sandwiches back in the day. I actually liked those well enough. But the burgers? Not a THING like how Mom used to make them! And those chickenoid things????
Advertising has taken on a whole new role in society today -- so I figure if any kid of mine is old enough to drive him/herself to the place and use his/her own money, fine -- teens do need choice. But as long as I am driving, NIX to the fast food places. Raising children with a variety of real foods cooked at home will largely result in children who grow up to appreciate the taste and quality of real foods.
Once, about 20 years ago, friends and I met at a McDonalds just simply because it was at a convenient location. I was clear about the fact that I found all their food inedible and that we should find something else once we met. They agreed. But when we all got there, they ate. I just watched them over a coffee.
Sorry, if I am going to eat something bad for me, it at least has to have the decency to TASTE somewhat edible. (And I wasn't even Paleo then!) McDonalds as a treat? No, a punishment!